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Missing the Obvious

February 19, 2015

Wolf Looking SharpBy now the story of Mark Driscoll’s demise is old news. Most every one who follows the events of broader evangelicalism knows the accusations of plagiarism, the temporary step down from ministry that led to a full resignation and the subsequent disconnecting of the satellite churches to each form their own autonomous ministry. In the many articles rehashing and dissecting the downfall of Mark’s ministry, I have read very few that have actually gotten to the root of the problem regarding Mark Driscoll.

The problem of Mark Driscoll is not that he had too much power in his church, or that he did not have a group of leaders around him able to curb his excesses. The problem with Mark Driscoll is he was not qualified to be a pastor. I must confess I was at one time briefly enamored by Mark Driscoll. Never with his doctrine, nor with his ministry philosophy, but with his ability to communicate. My selective memory recalls that captivation lasting for about a day and a half. He was a persuasive, dynamic figure able to captivate his listeners. He was able to articulate truth in an engaging and shocking fashion that confronted, offended and fascinated at the same time. His Seattle grunge eloquence and the following it generated helped many to overlook the fact he was never Biblically qualified for the ministry.

The first letter to Timothy includes a detailed description of the kind of person the pastor is to be. As Driscoll ascended in popularity, his incredible communication ability that was at first so attractive began to be seen as having some glaring problems, problems that revealed a character unfit for the pastorate. For a time Mark was known as the cussing pastor. Yes, he cussed. He cussed from the pulpit. He used vile humor that can only be described as “locker room” humor. I realize he confessed and repented of the foul language, but that’s not the point. No man who uses profanity on such a regular basis that it becomes part of his preaching and teaching is qualified to be a pastor. Jesus commands through Paul that the pastors of His church must be above reproach, be noteworthy for their appropriate behavior and live a life of self-control. The pastorate is no place for a man whose tongue is so untamed that foulness spews from it. He should never have been entrusted with the pastorate until his tongue was under control and he showed himself to be a mature Christian man. Other disqualifying character flaws could be offered up as proof of this point, but I will leave those specific examples to ones whose knowledge is first hand. Mark Driscoll’s brilliant communication skills and charismatic personality drew a huge following. His massive success caused many to overlook his lack of Biblical qualification.

Why bother beating on the man now? His influence is lost and he has stepped down from pastoral leadership (for now, but I predict a resurgence). Mark Driscoll is worth mentioning because we never learn. Since the days of Charles Finney, evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity has flitted from one magnetic leader to the next. When a man shows the ability to attract a large following Christianity has shown an appalling tendency to disregard Biblical character and doctrinal qualifications. For that matter, dozens of churches every year call a pastor based primarily on his ability to preach. With little investigation into his character or background, a church will vote to call a man because he is a good speaker. Since when did preaching ability become the primary qualification of a pastor? A vicious, uncontrolled, selfish, arrogant novice has a good chance of being handed the responsibility for the souls of dozens, or hundreds, of Christians if he can only keep their attention for 30 minutes on Sunday morning. If he is a good speaker, a church will entrust a man with the vision, finances, children, future and testimony of the ministry. This is folly! Character matters! Doctrine matters! The importance of a pastor’s character is not negated by his ability to attract crows or create professions of faith. A man who packs the house and fills the aisles does not get a pass on his uncontrolled temper because people are getting saved.

In certain segments of fantasy writing, elves are said to have “glamour”. Glamour is the ability to project an appearance into the mind of people, so that the elf looks beautiful and the person feels worthless. This glamour hides the elves predacious nature and seduces otherwise thoughtful people into submitting to atrocities they would normally never allow. Churches and Christians have been “glamoured” by personalities, crowds, charisma and success. This has got to stop. Wipe the fairy dust out of your eyes. Examine men and ministries based on the clear requirements of the Bible. Don’t give well spoken charlatans, hooligans and barkers the respect and responsibility reserved for a Godly man who leads the church with wisdom, grace and faithfulness.


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